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Powell Says Open Societies Are Way to Prosperity

Text: Powell Advocates Open Societies as Way to Prosperity

(July 26 remarks at ASEAN meeting in Hanoi)

The best way to get peace and prosperity is through open societies and free trade, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

America's top diplomat gave that prescription at the July 26 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Post Ministerial Conference 10+10 in Hanoi.

"Open societies and open and free trade are the pathways to lasting prosperity and political stability," Powell said.

Working together, he continued, the world's trading nations will have a "golden opportunity" during the November World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial in Doha.

There, Powell said, "we can launch a new Round of trade negotiations that will help all countries, especially developing countries, to expand their economies."

Speaking in the capital of one of the world's few remaining command economies, he urged reduced trade barriers "in all countries" as a way to stimulate "a new surge of international investment."

ASEAN, Powell said, "is full of examples demonstrating that private sector involvement is crucial to economic growth and development."

Support for a new trade round is widespread and growing, Powell suggested, noting that "APEC trade ministers reaffirmed the commitment to launch a new trade round in Doha" this past June in Shanghai.

Similarly, he added, in Genoa, Italy, "President Bush and his colleagues pledged to ... achieve that goal."

Powell said that the meeting between ASEAN representatives and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on the margins of the meeting of the ASEAN economic ministers in September "will be an important opportunity for advancing toward that common goal."

The United States, he went on, is "enthusiastic" about the meeting and the U.S.-ASEAN trade dialogue.

Secretary of State Powell said the United States believes regional integration, "if it is comprehensive and WTO-consistent, can be an important step toward global trade liberalization."

The United States, he added, considers ASEAN's decision to create the ASEAN Free Trade Area, or AFTA, "was a good one. We encourage you not to waver in your commitment to free trade and to implement AFTA on schedule."

Following is the text of the Secretary's remarks:

(begin text)

ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference 10 + 10

"REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC, FINANCIAL AND TRADE ISSUES"

Remarks by the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Colin Powell

As foreign ministers, we are all spending an increasing amount of time and attention on economic issues. Our governments' economic policies and actions have far-reaching consequences. The effects often ripple through everything we do, from security to fighting disease.

Open societies and open and free trade are the pathways to lasting prosperity and political stability. The most effective way for the world to travel those pathways is through increasing our combined efforts to shape their contours. The November WTO Ministerial in Doha offers a golden opportunity to do just that. In Doha, we can launch a new Round of trade negotiations that will help all countries, especially developing countries, to expand their economies.

Developing countries can be among the big winners if there is a market-opening Round. The reduction of the country's own barriers will benefit consumers and allow introduction of products and technologies that will spur innovation and put its economy on a more competitive, export-oriented footing. Second, the reduction of trade barriers in other countries will create important export and job creation opportunities.

Reduced trade barriers in all countries will also stimulate a new surge of international investment. ASEAN is full of examples demonstrating that private sector involvement is crucial to economic growth and development.

At their meeting in Shanghai last month, APEC trade ministers reaffirmed the commitment to launch a new trade round in Doha. In Genoa, President Bush and his colleagues pledged to "engage personally and jointly" to achieve that goal. The September meeting between ASEAN representatives and USTR on the margins of the meeting of the ASEAN economic ministers will be an important opportunity for advancing toward that common goal. We are enthusiastic about this meeting and our trade dialogue.

Regional integration, if it is comprehensive and WTO-consistent, can be an important step toward global trade liberalization. The United States believes ASEAN's decision to create the ASEAN Free Trade Area, or AFTA, was a good one. We encourage you not to waver in your commitment to free trade and to implement AFTA on schedule.

The experience of the United States, Canada and Mexico with the North American Free Trade Agreement has been very positive, creating jobs and increasing employment in all three countries. That positive experience is encouraging other democratic countries of the Western Hemisphere as we work to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. And as you know, we are pursuing bilateral free trade agreements with Singapore and Chile, as well as working for Congressional approval of our bilateral trade agreement with our host Vietnam.

A dynamic, growing global economy is the ultimate poverty reduction strategy. At the G-7/G-8 meetings in Genoa, each of the leaders committed to put in place pro-growth strategies. The U.S. is leading the way by taking decisive action, including tax cuts and by maintaining dynamic, flexible domestic markets.

We are all also very interested in Japan's efforts to restructure its economy and ultimately return to strong growth. I would like to note President Bush's statement after meeting with Prime Minister Koizumi last month that the U.S. supports Japan's current reform plans and believes the Japanese leadership is on the right track. I echoed those sentiments earlier this week in Tokyo.

Expanding world trade is another important way to spur growth, foster development and alleviate poverty. In working for the launch of a new trade round, we will work with developing countries to address their priorities.

More broadly, President Bush is committed to a true partnership with developing countries to remove obstacles to development: poor governance, trade barriers, unsustainable debt, illiteracy, hunger and disease. This was a focus of his participation in the recent Genoa G-8 Summit. In particular, President Bush has suggested that a larger share of World Bank assistance to the poorer countries be extended in the form of grants. We believe assistance should be used to promote real, durable change based on growth, productivity, democratization and poverty reduction. We also believe the skills of international financial institutions can be better focused in achieving economic development and higher living standards around the world.

We have learned that assistance is most successful in countries with sound economic management and good governance practices. Government plays a vital role in creating the needed legal and economic environment to build investor confidence, enhance education and improve worker skills, but it is the private sector that creates the jobs and economic activity that lifts families, as well as entire countries, out of poverty.

And I have often said that money is a coward -- it will not go where there is danger and instability. This is especially true of private money.

Countries which focus on creating an environment where the private sector can thrive -- promoting the rule of law, reducing corruption and improving productivity through better education, nutrition, and health programs -- will attract international support and prosper.

There is also great interest here in the global economic outlook. Recent turbulence in emerging markets and the slowing of economic growth in key economies are being closely watched by all of us.

Our experience since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis shows that economic reform efforts have paid off by strengthening economies against market contagion from such turbulence. However, economic reform is not yet complete. Corporate and banking restructuring, regulatory reform, and transparency need to be achieved. Without them, macroeconomic vulnerability remains.

These are challenging times for all of us, but they are promising times as well. Never in human history has there been so much freedom, so much democracy, and so many people on the road to prosperity. And I believe this region is well situated to continue its drive toward economic growth and prosperity.

The Asia-Pacific region is the most dynamic in the world. It is a pleasing paradox that such dynamism coupled with economic and political freedom, and the requisite security to maintain stability, can produce incredible economic success.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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